During excavations on military grounds at Salisbury Plain, UK, Afghanistan war veterans who were assisting the works found a 6th century Saxon burial of a warrior.
The individual was buried along with his spear and his sword in his arms and various items were found at a remarkably good condition. Although the grave was located under a military trackway, with loads of heavy weight vehicles passing, excavation revealed not only his bones and weapons, but also personal items such as a belt buckle, a knife and tweezers.
The veterans were assisting the excavation as part of Operation Nightingale, which aims to help them recover by involving them in archaeology. Many of the veterans participating in the project have decided to become archaeologists.
The discovery was made on the last day of the dig. The finds have been taken at Wessex Archaeology for conservation and study and will consequently be given to the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.
The site, Barrow Clump, before being used as an Anglo-Saxon cemetery was a Bronze Age burial mound which was built on an older Neolithic Settlement. Extensive damaged caused by ploughing was aggravated by badgers who were digging out holes and kicking out human bones. That is why permission for excavations was granted despite it being a listed site.
During the excavations numerous Saxon burials were uncovered, with men having been buried at the edge of the site and women and children in the centre. Many grave goods included weapons and jewellery.
The cemetery was created on the hill, specialists believe, because a settlement was in the valley below, and as was custom among Saxons at the time, it was important for residents to know their ancestors were buried nearby looking over them.